Strive Community
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Strive Community

Strive Community is one year old: Here’s what we have accomplished in the last year

It’s been a year since the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Caribou Digital launched Strive Community, a global initiative aimed at providing support to five million small businesses around the world. We firmly believe that small businesses are key to inclusive growth, and we remain committed to unleashing their potential through innovative digital solutions to enable them to build resilience and grow.

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

We’re supporting programs to deliver innovative solutions to small businesses around the world.

In the last year, we’ve launched 14 programs (and counting!) across the globe that are supporting small businesses to digitalize their operations, meaningfully use digital financial services, and more effectively participate in digital markets. Most recently, we launched the ‘Small Business, Big Dreams’ program with Grab to boost entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia and a program to support the digitalization of micro-enterprises in Brazil’s favelas. Our portfolio of experienced implementation partners push our programs to test truly innovative digital solutions, and our scale partners enable us to drive impact at scale.

We also ran our inaugural Innovation Fund competition, which received more than 650 strong applications from all over the world. The fund awarded a total of $1 million to organizations testing new products, features, services, and business models that could catalyze small businesses’ resilience and growth, at scale.

We’ve developed digital training content for small businesses that scale partners can access for free.

Supporting small businesses with the skills they need to grow is a critical aspect of unleashing their full potential. Our implementation partners have used their expertise and experience to design and develop digital content for upskilling small businesses. This content is available to partners with large networks of small businesses at no cost. These include:

  • A series of microlearning videos to support small business owners in Southeast Asia, developed with Bayan Academy, Grab, Tumbu Accelerator, and WISE Vietnam. These videos cover topics such as sales techniques, product development, and digital marketing, among many others.
  • Microlearning videos and courses to support young Kenyan entrepreneurs via the MESH app, the first online community for entrepreneurs in the informal economy. Developed by Shujaaz Inc, these videos cover nine topics, including business management, customers, marketing, and finance.
  • A small business digitalization course to support brick-and-mortar micro-retailers in Africa delivered via a chatbot. Developed by Arifu, the chatbot is available in WhatsApp and SMS in English, French, Luganda, and Swahili.
  • A global course for small businesses selling online, available via a chatbot and a learning management system (both an app and web). Developed by TechnoServe, the course topics focus on how small businesses can grow their online customer base, increase online sales and profits, and boost customer satisfaction.

All of this content was designed with the specific needs and challenges of small businesses and entrepreneurs in mind, informed by comprehensive needs assessments and iterative and human-centered design approaches.

Our content is already being distributed via our partners, including Arifu, Jaza Duka, and Shujaaz Inc in Africa, and Grab in Southeast Asia. This content is completely available to use at no cost—we welcome organizations supporting small businesses to reach out to discuss using this content.

We’re sharing insights and better practices for organizations supporting small business growth.

We’re passionate about evidence and actionable insights that most effectively support small business growth. Earlier this year, we took a closer look at the digital-first players and channels that have emerged to support small businesses and shared recommendations on how new and established actors can work together more effectively. To better share these and other insights from Strive Community, we launched a new dedicated insights section on our website. Here you can find insights as they relate to our focus areas, as well as a library to explore evidence, best practices, and analysis.

We’re building a community of like-minded organizations empowering small businesses to go digital.

By working together as a community, we can strengthen small businesses and unleash their full potential to catalyze inclusive growth. Through LinkedIn and Twitter, we are inviting dialogue around insights and increased sharing of best practices among the community. We’re also exploring ways to foster deeper engagement and insights sharing between our partners, something we’ll continue to do next year, and beyond. Follow us to join the conversation!

It has been a productive year for Strive Community, and we remain committed to empowering five million small businesses around the world for a digital future. Looking ahead, we continue to seek out partnerships with new organizations that can help us deliver impact, test innovative digital solutions, and share learnings on supporting small businesses going digital. We’d love for you to join our community, so please get in touch if you want to learn more.



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Janet Shulist

Janet Shulist


Insights Manager for Strive Community program, which will empower five million small businesses to survive and grow by going digital.